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Up in smoke Gardai seize €10,000 of fireworks in Balbriggan, north Dublin

Gardai have ramped up their surveillance under the annual Operation Tombola crackdown.

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Fireworks seized in Balbriggan

Fireworks seized in Balbriggan

Fireworks seized in Balbriggan

Gardaí seized €10,000 worth of fireworks during a search operation in Balbriggan on Sunday evening. 

Officers said they believe the fireworks were to be used for sale and supply in the North Dublin area. They have ramped up their surveillance under the annual Operation Tombola crackdown.

The high profile operation has ensured that illegal firework use has continued to remain low following several hundred seizures when their use was increasing year-on-year with a whopping 380 illegal explosives seized in 2009.

Last year, when the Covid-19 pandemic was at its height, a total of 289 seizures were made which is up from 2019's 206 seizures.

In 2018, there were 168 seizures, 186 in 2017 and 124 in 2016.

The Central Statistics Office (CSO) figures for this year, which detail the first six months, show that 16 seizures have been made.

Legislation came into effect in 2006, which made it an offence to possess a firework with intent to sell or supply, without a licence, light unlicensed fireworks, throw or direct a lit firework at any person or property.

The seizures are made across four regions which include the Dublin Metropolitan Region, Eastern, Western and Southern.

A CSO spokesperson said: “The figures show that the use of fireworks has continued to be targeted by authorities for illegal use and the statistics reflect that due to them remaining lower than their height in 2009.

“Each year it’s reasonably predictable that the number of fireworks seized starts to rise in quarter three of any year and reaches a peak in October and November - the last quarter.

“Data is sourced from PULSE, the crime incident Garda database.”

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Since March 2018, the CSO has applied a categorisation of Statistics Under Reservation to Recorded Crime statistics to inform users that the Office has concerns about the quality of the data source.

Statistics compiled from the source may understate or overstate the actual occurrence of reported crime and may be subject to revision in subsequent publications.

A full policing plan known as Operation Tombola is in operation in the DMR in the lead up to and over the Halloween period which is designed to combat the sale, supply and possession of fireworks and anti-social behaviour. This year it started on August 26.

A Garda spokesperson added: “Operation Tombola will deliver a range of initiatives to tackle the sale of fireworks, preventing associated public disorder and anti-social behaviour through the incremental deployment of overt and covert Garda resources.

“Gardai as per previous years, deploy significant resources to support and achieve tangible outcomes this year.

“Officers, as per previous years, collaborate and liaise with Dublin Fire Brigade (DFB) and the local authorities to maximise public safety and ensure appropriate measures are put in place to prevent and detect the sale and use of illegal fireworks and activities associated with the preparation of unsupervised and unplanned bonfires.”

Gardaí attached to each Community Policing Unit engage with youths in the lead up to Halloween in various for a such as primary Schools, Youth Diversion Groups as various other local forums.

Two weeks ago Justice Minister Humphreys launched a Fireworks Awareness Raising Campaign for this year in collaboration with the ISPCA, Dublin Fire Brigade and Gardai.

Serious penalties can be imposed for the misuse of illegal fireworks with fines of up to €10,000 or fives years imprisonment, or both, can apply.

Sinn Féin Justice spokesperson Martin Kenny said: “Illegal fireworks trade is just an additional scourge on communities already trying to cope with antisocial behaviour.”

Deputy Kenny argued that Operation Tombola should start earlier than it does in August/September to stamp out firework use even further.

So far this month, notable fireworks seizures were made in Wicklow, Dublin, Louth and Tipperary.

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